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SRI paddy cultivation: Reduce the risk while increasing income.

(www.kinhtenongthon.com.vn) The system of rice intensification (SRI) project has been active since 2007, and today there are 1 million farmers applying SRI in different regions. According to evaluations, SRI could be considered a suitable choice given the fact that the climate is currently changing rapidly.

Farmers applying SRI in Bac Kan

Mr. Ngo Tien Dung, deputy director of the Plant Protection Department (PPD) said that, SRI has currently been applied completely or partly on 85,422 ha of rice in 22 provinces and cities. Thanks to SRI, farmers have saved 2,500 tons of seeding paddy, 1,700 tons of fertilizer and increased their income with 170 billion per harvest. However, as of today SRI is still only implemented in the Northern and Central areas of Vietnam; it has not yet expanded to the areas surrounding the Mekong Delta.

According to Mr. Dung, since 2002, PPD has been to many countries to visit and learn about the SRI model. In 2007, with the sponsor of Oxfam organization, Ha Tay PPD (now becoming Ha Noi PPD) has cooperated with the Dai Nghia Agricultural cooperative (My Duc) to execute SRI community – based activities.

In the SRI projects farmers have a chance to participate in classes where they can design experimental fields together. In the first year, more than 1,000 farmers have learned to use SRI and the net profit from their fields have increased with 2 million VND per hectare on average.

Mr. Le Ngoc Thach, director of Dai Nghia cooperative shares: “Normally, one cluster of paddy gives 5 blooms but SRI paddy gives 8-10 blooms. Normal paddy has 100 – 120 grains while SRI paddy gives 180-200 grains. SRI has solved many problems that farmers are facing like: high producing expense but low income. Additionally, according to the traditional cultivating methods, farmers often overuse fertilizer and pesticide which affects the soil in a negative way, resulting in resilient weed and insects, a polluted environment and low productivity. Currently, all the fields of Dai Nghia cooperative have been sown using the SRI method.

Cultivating compatible with climate change: 

From 2009 until now, Center for Sustainable Rural Development has integrated the use of SRI in its’ projects as seen for example in the project: “Farmers experiment on the system of rice intensification to cope with climate change”. The yield of the paddies cultivated through SRI increased by 9-15% on average, compared to the traditional method. Additionally, it also helps farmers to save 70-90% of the seeds, 20-25% of the nitrate and 2/3 of the amount of water needed. Moreover, the use of fertilizer is also reduced by 45% and the irrigation cost is decreased by 35%. The combination between saving inputs and increasing productivity has led to a 50% increase in income – equivalent to approximately VND 5,4 million per hectare per harvest. SRI cultivation helps increase the tolerance to harsh weather conditions and also reduces the proportion of paddies dying because of coldness and drought. Besides, SRI can help limit the development of diseases; reduce the negative impacts on to the environment and also diminish the emission of greenhouse gases from chemicals and nitrate. 

Mr. Dang Van Son - deputy director of the Bac Kan agricultural development department said that Bac Kan is now applying SRI for Na Ri, Cho Moi and Ba Be districts following 5 rules: seeding and cultivate at the same time to reconcile the watering amount; sowing the new seeds; sparse sowing; using organic fertilizer and balanced fertilizing; weeding and mud plunging by hand. Additionally, Bac Kan is a dry area so the SRI cultivation is very compatible with this type of land.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Hoa, SRD Director believes that SRI might be the most effective solution for farmers to promote agricultural production based on community. The overuse of fertilizer and high-density cultivating leads to many serious consequences like: lower crop health (crop will easily become infected and destroyed by insects), lower efficiency and quality, deteriorating community health and polluting the environment. Additionally, SRI cultivation not only helps people sustainably manage the earth and water resources but also improves the production capabilities of those resources in the future. Thus, local areas should research and implement this method of cultivation.

The system of rice intensification (SRI), which is executed by the Plant Protection Department and the Centre for Sustainable Rural Development with the support of Oxfam, has been ranked first among 56 products that receive the Golden Paddy award from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2012. Currently, there are 40 countries around the world applying the SRI model.

                                                                                                                                                                                                     (Chu Khoi)